R. Kelly leaves court following a hearing in Chicago in 2019. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
After four women testified that they were sexually abused by R. Kelly as minors, with some saying they had sex with him “hundreds” of times before they turned 18, federal prosecutors rested their case in a Chicago courtroom on Tuesday. In Chicago, Kelly is facing 13 charges, including multiple counts of coercing a minor into sexual activity and engaging in such conduct in order to produce video, and is accused of receiving child pornography, conspiring to receive child pornography, and conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation.
One of the accusers, “Pauline,” testified that she was 14 when she first had sexual contact with Kelly and another underage girl, who testified under the pseudonym “Jane.” Pauline said she was 15 when she first had sex with Kelly, and that between the ages of 14 and 16, she performed oral sex on the singer more than 80 times, and had sex with Kelly as well as threesomes with Kelly and another accuser, “Jane,” dozens of times.“He taught me how to give oral sex on him and Jane,” she told the court, adding that Kelly had filmed her. It’s all part of the latest in a series of trials attempting to address sexual abuse allegations against Kelly spanning three decades, and could result in even more prison time for Kelly. The Grammy-winning artist is currently serving a 30-year sentence following a separate guilty conviction last year. At the heart of this case is Jane, who said Kelly coerced her out of testifying at a previous trial, in 2008, by threatening her and her parents and paying them off. Two decades ago, a video of Kelly’s alleged abuse targeting Jane was anonymously sent to the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper then forwarded the footage to police, which led to a state-level child pornography prosection. A jury acquitted Kelly after Jane refused to testify. Jane, now 37, took to the stand earlier this month and testified that she was 14 when Kelly, who was about 30 at the time, started to sexually abuse her. Jane said Kelly abused her hundreds of times, starting in 1998 when she was as young as 13. They had sex for the first time when she was 15, she said.
“Uncountable times. Hundreds,” Jane said when asked how many times she had had sex with Kelly before she turned 18. Jane also confirmed that some of the videos in evidence, parts of which the jury watched, depict some of the alleged sexual encounters between Kelly and Jane. Another accuser, “Tracy,” detailed how she met Kelly in 1999 when she was a record-label intern. She said she told him she was 16 before they kissed and he started masturbating. Tracy told the court Kelly “forced himself” on her in a hotel room and later the two had sex in his studio. In another example, she alleged an encounter with Kelly and Jane, during which she said she cried. Kelly allegedly told Tracy to “stop being a baby” while he filmed the incident. “Nia,” the final accuser to take the stand, said she met Kelly when she was 15 in 1996 at a mall in Atlanta when she approached him for an autograph. She said she got Kelly’s phone number and eventually he invited her to a show in Minneapolis. There, he visited her hotel room the morning after the concert. She told the jury he had touched her breasts and masturbated. She also detailed another incident when Kelly allegedly fondled her at a recording studio, before he stopped returning her calls. Prosecutors didn’t say why a fifth accuser who was supposed to testify didn’t. The trial is taking place in Kelly’s hometown. Two of his former employees—business manager Derrel McDavid and assistant Milton “June” Brown—are also on trial. McDavid is accused of helping Kelly rig a previous trial, while Brown is accused of receiving child pornography. All three men have denied the allegations.
Kelly’s defense attorneys are expected to call up their own witnesses to the stand Thursday. Closing arguments and jury deliberation are expected next week. Earlier this year, a separate jury in New York found Kelly guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking after listening to several testimonies, including that he groomed a teenager, sexually abused the late Aaliyah when she was 13 or 14, and that he forced a woman to have sex as “punishment.” He started serving his term in Brooklyn before being moved to a federal prison in Chicago ahead of his current trial.He is also facing sex crime charges in Illinois and Minnesota. They’ll be pursued after the current Chicago trial is over. The disgraced singer enjoyed widespread success even after sexual abuse allegations started surfacing. Motherboard previously reported how an endless stream of memes helped keep the singer in the spotlight.Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.